Join the Great American Smokeout Today

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STATE—Do you know someone who smokes and would like to quit? Help mark the Great American Smokeout today by encouraging a friend or family member to check out New Jersey’s free or low-cost Quit Services that have already helped thousands of residents give up tobacco.

At the Department of Health and Senior Services Quit 2 Win web page, www.njquit2win.com/services.asp, you can learn more about available services and send an E-card to a smoker encouraging him or her to quit.

“Quitting smoking can be very difficult,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “Our Quit Services—which provide advice and counseling, combined with support from friends and family—can give a person who smokes the best possible chance to give up tobacco and stay tobacco-free.”

NJQuitline is a free, telephone-based counseling program that operates six days a week with services in 26 languages. NJQuitNet is a free online smoking cessation and support service. The low-cost NJQuitcenters offer face-to-face counseling at seven locations around the state.

According to 2007 data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s adult smoking rate has dropped below 20 percent for the first time on record. New Jersey’s rate is even lower at just over 17 percent, compared with 19.7 for the U.S. Just over 15 percent of New Jersey women are smokers, and slightly more than 19 percent of men.

According to the 2006 New Jersey Youth Tobacco Survey, just under 16 percent of high school students are current smokers, and nearly half have tried a tobacco product at some point in their lives.

There are more than a million New Jersey residents who smoke. Tobacco use in this state is the number one preventable cause of premature death, leading to about 11,000 lives lost every year due to cancer, emphysema and heart disease. In addition to the death and illness caused by tobacco use, it also costs the state billions in health-care expenditures and lost productivity.

“Fortunately, New Jersey has a Smoke-Free Air Act which protects most employees, customers and people in public locations from the dangers of second-hand smoke,” Commissioner Howard said. “Now, it’s up to all of us to encourage all our friends and family to go tobacco-free to protect their health and the health of their loved ones.”

“A key purpose of the Smoke-Free Air Act is to create smoke-free environments that encourage smokers to quit,” said Dr. Fred M. Jacobs, former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. “Quitting smoking leads to immediate and long-term health benefits, not only for smokers, but for family and friends who are exposed to secondhand smoke.” Dr. Jacobs is presently executive vice president and director of the Saint Barnabas Quality Institute, and president of New Jersey GASP, a 34 year-old nonprofit that works towards tobacco-free initiatives.

The commissioner noted that previous surveys have shown that nearly three-fourths of smokers polled said they want to quit.

New Jersey’s Quit Services offer a proven method for those who want to give up tobacco. NJQuitline and NJQuitcenter participants are assigned a personal counselor who helps develop an individualized treatment plan and offers support throughout the quitting process. NJQuitNet also helps participants create their own quitting plan and get online support through chat rooms and other resources.

Each year, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout on the Thursday before Thanksgiving to encourage smokers to give up cigarettes for the day, and ideally for good. Many organizations, including DHSS, have joined ACS over the years as the Smokeout has become an effective tool in the fight against tobacco.

NJQuitline can be reached by calling 1-866-NJ STOPS (657-8677). NJQuitNet is on the web at: www.njquitline.com. Find a convenient NJQuitcenter by calling NJQuitline or by visiting the NJQuitNet site at: nj.quitnet.com/library/quit-centers.jtml.


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